The Best Ways To Reinforce A Front Door If You're Renting

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No one likes the thought of being unprotected, but as a renter, you may realize there are limitations to what you can do to secure your front door. It's not likely possible to drill holes for your deadbolt or to add high-end security features. What are the best ways to reinforce and improve the security of your front door, then, if you're a renter? It starts with speaking to your landlord about a few different options and, when possible, making minor but impactful adjustments, such as replacing the strike plate and screws to ensure it locks well.

The first step is to talk with your landlord or property manager about your concerns. If there are substantial risks, such as the door not locking or otherwise being damaged, insist on a replacement and added security from your landlord. Typically, the landlord is responsible for ensuring there are functional locks and a secure door on the property. While your landlord may make some upgrades, not all will be relevant to significant replacement if there's no obvious risk to you. For that reason, you may want to speak to them about other upgrades you plan to make yourself and ensure that those changes are allowable within your rental agreement. In some situations, you may be able to strengthen the door's function, install doorbell cameras, and add a door alarm. Other changes, like switching out the strike plate or adding a deadbolt protection device, may also be options.

Updates to the door and lock itself

Once you understand the rules for upgrading your door, there may be a few simple things you can do that your landlord isn't likely to object to. If possible, switch out the locks on the door (even if you give them to the landlord as required). This way, you know no one else has a key. Your landlord is likely to require permission from them to do this.

Next, replace the screws and the strike plates on the door. The strike plate is typically installed using very small screws, which usually come with the lock. This is fine for some situations, but by replacing them with longer and heartier screws, you can add more strength, making them hard to bust through by someone who wishes to break into your home. Your goal is to choose screws of about 4 inches in length to go through the house frame when placing them. Also, to add a small amount of additional protection, angle the screws just a bit so that it creates a strong bond with the framing.

Another option is to add a door wraparound plate. The plate works much the same as a strike plate, but it wraps around the door's handle opening. This helps to add more strength to the doorknob, making it harder for anyone to break through it. It may be necessary to let your landlord know that you're making this upgrade, too.

Non-permanent security options for your front door

As a renter, you may want to do more than just update the lock on your door. Depending on the details of your rental agreement, there may be a few additional steps you can take to improve your front door security. One option is to install an apartment doorbell outside your door. A wireless, battery-powered option, would allow you to see who is at your front door before you open it, giving you a bit more protection from putting yourself at risk. Many can be mounted without causing damage to the wall or door itself. 

If the door has a deadbolt on it, you may benefit from a deadbolt protection device. A product like the Flip Guard ($40 from The Ultimate Lock) makes it impossible for lock picking or lock bumping once you put the guard in place. It prevents the deadbolt from being unlocked from the outside with a key as well.

You may also be able to add a door alarm to the door, like General Electric Company's $13 Personal Security Window and Door Alarm. This could alert you, for example, in the middle of the night, if someone tries to break into your home. A variety of manufacturers make removable and temporary door alarms like this that don't damage the wall or door when you install them, and they can connect to your smartphone to sound when the door is opened. This works as a security system for your home.